The manga was later adapted into four anime television series, a Japanese television drama and two films, one live action and one animated. Released in 1963, the first series was among the first Japanese anime series to feature a giant robot. It was later released in America as Gigantor. A live-action movie with heavy use of CGI was produced in Japan in 2005.
Mecha were popularized by Japanese anime and manga, and the first humanoid giant robot is Tetsujin 28-Go; who was controlled externally via remote control by an operator. The first occurrence of mecha being piloted by a user from within a cockpit was introduced much later in the manga and anime series Mazinger Z by Go Nagai, first published in 1972.
In the final phase of the Pacific War, the Imperial Japanese Army were developing a gigantic robot "Tetsujin 28-go" as the secret weapon to fight against the Allies. However, Japan had surrendered before they can complete its construction. After the war, Dr. Kaneda, the developer of Tetsujin 28-go passed his robot to his son Shotaro Kaneda.Shotaro Kaneda (金田 正太郎, Kaneda Shōtarō): The ten-year-old son of Dr. Kaneda. He is Tetsujin's assigned controller, with a deep emotional attachment to the robot. Shotaro is a boy detective famous throughout Tokyo, and in the manga, 1963 series, and 2004 series, can be seen frequently driving a car.
Professor Shikishima (敷島 博士, Shikishima-hakase): Dr. Kaneda's assistant, later Shotaro's mentor and guardian. He is caring and very dedicated to his work, but usually looks serious and deadpan. He is married, and has a son named Tetsuo.
Inspector Ootsuka (大塚 署長, Ōtsuka-shochō): The Chief of Tokyo Police. He is warm in personality and very enthusiastic, which isn't to say he doesn't take his job seriously. He is very close to Shikishima and also takes care of Shotaro, even acting as a surrogate father in the 2004 series.
Kenji Murasame (村雨 健次, Murasame Kenji): A former intelligence officer who begins to help Otsuka and Shotaro's work. His appearances in the 1960s and 2004 series are startkly different; he is immediately Shotaro's ally in the 1960s, but in the 2004 series, his brothers Ryuusaku and Tatsu are killed during Tetsujin's revival, causing him to seek revenge for several episodes. In the original manga, he and Ryuusaku are the leaders of a criminal organization.
Professor Shutain Franken (不乱拳酒多飲 博士, Furanken Shutain-hakase): A reclusive mad scientist who created the robot Black Ox. He is calm and very knowledgeable, but unfortunately uses his talents to create dangerous robots. In the original version of the 1960s series, his name is Dr. Black Dog.
Superhuman Kelly (超人間 ケリー, Chōningen Kerī): An American man who volunteered himself to be turned into an android as part of a wartime experiment. As a result, his body is entirely robotic with the exception of his brain, and is often covered in bandages. In the 2004 series, he steals his brother Johnson's identity in order to kill the doctor that made him this way.
Tetsujin 28-go was serialized in Kobunsha's Shōnen Magazine from July 1956 to May 1966, for a total of 97 chapters. The series was collected into 12 tankōbon volumes, which are re-released every ten years.
Yokoyama's Tetsujin, much like Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy, was influenced by the artist's wartime experiences. In Yokoyama's case, this was through the bombing of Kobe in World War II.
As he had written in Ushio magazine in 1995, "When I was a fifth-grader, the war ended and I returned home from Tottori Prefecture, where I had been evacuated. The city of Kobe had been totally flattened, reduced to ashes. People said it was because of the B-29 bombers...as a child, I was astonished by their terrifying, destructive power." Another influence on Tetsujin's creation was the Vergeltungswaffen, a set of wonder weapons designed for long-range strategic bombing during World War II, and the idea that Nazi Germany possessed an "ace in the hole to reverse [its] waning fortunes". The third work to inspire Yokoyama's creation was the 1931 film Frankenstein, which shaped Yokoyama's belief that the monster itself is neither good or evil.
The 1963 television incarnation of Tetsujin 28-go aired on Fuji TV from 20 October 1963 to 25 May 1966. The series initially ended with 84 episodes, but then returned for 13 more, for a total of 97 episodes. The series had mostly short plots that never took up more than three episodes, but was generally more light-hearted than the anime that would succeed it. Shotaro, Otsuka, Shikishima and Murasame functioned as a team in this version. Only 52 of the 97 episodes were ever dubbed in English.
The 1980-81 Shin Tetsujin 28-go (New Tetsujin 28) series was created with 51 color episodes based on a modernized take upon the original concept art. In 1993, Fred Ladd and the TMS animation studio converted the series into The New Adventures of Gigantor and had it broadcast on America's Sci-Fi Channel from September 9, 1993 to June 30, 1997.
Chō Dendō Robo Tetsujin 28-go FX is a sequel to Tetsujin 28-go directed by Tetsuo Imazawa and produced at the Tokyo Movie Shinsha studio. It ran on Nippon Television from April 5, 1992 to March 30, 1993, totaling 47 episodes. It has been brought over to Latin America, but never released in English-speaking countries.
The show follows Shotaro's son, Masato, who controls a new edition of Tetsujin and works at a detective agency with other children. Among them are Shiori Nishina, granddaughter of Chief Otsuka. The Tetsujin FX (Iron Hero 28 Future X) is controlled by a remote control gun, which has to be aimed at the robot for it to take commands.Cast
Yusuke Numata as Masato Kaneda
Hideyuki Tanaka as Shotaro Kaneda (adult)
Eiko Yamada as Shotaro Kaneda (child)
Ai Orikasa as Yoko Kaneda
Fumihiko Tachiki as Ken'ichi Tsukasa
Etsuko Kozakura as Futaba Mitsue
Takeshi Kusao as Saburo Natsuki
Akiko Hiramatsu as Shiori Nishina
Written and directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa, the 2004 remake takes place ten years after World War II, approximately the same time as the manga debuted. The new television series has been released in the United States under its original name Tetsujin-28 by Geneon and in the United Kingdom by Manga Entertainment, the first time a Tetsujin-28 property has not been localized to "Gigantor" in America or other English speaking nations. The television series focused mainly on Shotaro's pursuit to control and fully understand Tetsujin's capabilities, all the while encountering previous creations and scientists from the Tetsujin Project. While not fully based on the original manga, it followed an extremely different storyline than in the 1960s series.
On March 31, 2007, a feature-length film, entitled "Tetsujin 28-go: Hakuchu no Zangetsu" (which translates as "Tetsujin #28: The Daytime Moon") was released in Japanese theaters. The film used the same character designs and scenery as the 2004 television series, albeit the film remade the series from the beginning. Among the changes, a new character "Shoutarou" debuted, Shotaro's older half-brother who was in the same airforce troop as Ryuusaku Murasame. Also a character named Tsuki, with a heavily bandaged body, attempts to murder Shotaro.
In Sandlot's videogame adaption, released July 1st 2004, you control Tetsujin 28 from the point of view of Shotaro Kaneda—able to control both Shotaru and Tetsujin 28. The control method is slightly simplified compared to Sandlot's other giant robot games such as Robot Alchemic Drive, in that you are not asked to control each leg separately. But you gain the ability to fly Tetsujin 28, and well as have him pick up buildings, enemies, and even Shotaru.
The game uses the same voice actors as the animation, though it takes presentation cues from the anime, the manga, as well as the kaiju film genre.
The live action movie was released in the US on DVD by Geneon Entertainment in 2006 and has been licensed for a UK release by Manga Entertainment. The movie centers on Shotaro, who is living in the modern age with his widowed mother. Tetsujin 28 is accidentally discovered, and Shotaro's mother explains that it was left for Shotaro. He, with the help of Chief Otsuka and an older female classmate, learns to control Tetsujin. In the meantime, a Dr. Reiji Takumi activates Black Ox and plans to attack Tetsujin.
Idlewild director Bryan Barber picked up the remake rights to Gigantor in 2011 with plans to adapt it. But no further developments have happened since then.
On December 26, 2008, Felix Ip, the creative director of Imagi Animation Studios, revealed screenshots from a computer-animated teaser video featuring Black Ox and Tetsujin. On January 9, 2009, the Japanese animation company Hikari Productions and IMAGI launched the project's website. The teaser features Dr. Franken with nearly the same name that he had in the 2005 movie, him also being the leader of a terrorist organization, and Shotaro being designed to look more like Daisaku from Giant Robo: The Animation. The movie has not yet been finalized, as its further production depends on worldwide success of the Astro Boy movie. Bryan Barber recently expressed interest in pitching a Hollywood film version of Gigantor, and allegedly has the merchandising rights to the property.
In the US adaptation of the 1963 Tetsujin 28 series, which was done by Fred Ladd, all of the character names were changed, and the wartime setting removed. Shotaro Kaneda became Jimmy Sparks, Dr. Shikishima became Dr. Bob Brilliant, Inspector Otsuka became Inspector Ignatz J. Blooper, and Kenji Murasame became Dick Strong. The series' setting was pushed forward to the year 2000. The 1980 television series was also exported to America in 1993, retitled as The New Adventures of Gigantor, with most of Fred Ladd's names intact. The 2004 television series, released by Geneon, retained all of its original names.The shotacon genre of Japanese fiction, which focuses on a sexual attraction to young boys, is said to be linked to Tetsujin 28-go's Shotaro as an early example of the archetypal boys the genre focuses on; indeed, the term "shotacon" is said to be short for "Shotaro Complex".
Guillermo Del Toro has cited the series as an influence on his movie Pacific Rim, depicting a series of battles between human-controlled giant robots and giant alien monsters.
Shotaro's name was borrowed by Katsuhiro Otomo for the protagonist of his manga, Akira.
The U.S. edition of the show, Gigantor, was spoofed in SNL's 'Torboto' sketch.